ROGER PAWLEY – the Askean connection

Roger was at Haberdasher Aske’s school in Hatcham from 1949 to 1954. I had commenced two years before that so we did not have close association at School – rather like the Clease/Corbett sketch I looked down on them, I looked up to the Prefects.  Roger was not keen on school sports but otherwise was always a participator, a characteristic he carried into adult life. I recall he was active in school Clubs such as the Lit and Deb and the Natural History societies, there were probably others.

It was after leaving school that our paths came together, we were both members of the Old Askean Association Field Club. This club had only started a couple of years earlier, founded by Donald LeJeune and Dermot Poston. They remained our friends throughout their lives.

The Field Club had a variety of activities such as walking, pot-holing, theatre visits and dining. It thrived for a few years but then joined with the Old Askean Rambling Club which had a longer history, being founded in 1889. Roger walked with that Club for the rest of his life, he was Captain from 1989 until 2022 when ill health meant he had to stop.

He and Hazel were stalwarts of the Rambling Club keeping it active in lean times. I had very many walks with him, both locally and long-distance. The highlight is probably our walk from Coast to Coast.  We undertook Wainwright’s walk of around 200 miles from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire.  On a stopover at a farm in Shap we were complimented as being the smartest dressed walkers that the host had seen!  We did it in 4 visits of 4 days.  He was a competent map reader, bolstered by his binoculars which he usually carried to identify birds and animals as well as routes. He was calm in a crisis which made him an excellent companion. Roger had a great interest and knowledge of nature, sharing such knowledge on many Rambles with the OARC.  If the route crossed a ploughed field then Roger was on watch, hoping to find a Roman remain.   After our weekend walks we regularly were treated to tea, coffee, biscuits or cake, all from the boot of Roger and Hazel’s car and served on a table. From around Year 2000 the Club had short breaks of 5 nights at a suitable hotel in a good walking region. In the early days over 30 members were present. Two walks a day were offered and Roger could be relied upon to do them all with appropriate local maps or books.  On the final night the other guests at dinner were treated to a hearty rendition of the School song, “The Sandbin,” Roger having previously sought permission from the Management.

Roger was a gentleman, he cared for those around him and was always ready to assist in any way he could.   He is remembered as sociable and generous in his hospitality. Around Christmas each year after a short walk the ramblers were invited by Roger and Hazel to return to their home “The Captain’s Cabin”.  Members were given a sumptuous cold platter and appropriate beverage.

Roger can be regarded as a model Old Askean. He was a Life Member of the OAA and President in 2005.  He was a member of the Committee a number of times and took responsibility as Social Secretary for many events, including the introduction of the RAF Club for the Annual Dinner. He was a traditionalist – he resisted the movement of the Annual Dinner away from Haberdashers Hall, and also the cessation of it being a “black tie” event. He was a true supporter and could be relied upon to attend the various events organised by the Old Askean Association.

I am grateful to have known him and will remember him as a good friend. He is sorely missed by me and many others. May he rest in peace.

Dennis Johnson